"Make knowledge of the Scripture your love...Live with them, meditate on them, make them the sole object of your knowledge and inquiries." -Jerome
Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius is a man every Christian should know a little about. Although you will not know him by his given name, you might know him by the name others knew him by — Jerome.
Jerome was arguably one of the greatest scholars in Christianity by the time he was in his mid-thirties. I have spoken about the Scriptures and our need to be "first-handers" with the Bible — meaning it is a good practice to read Christian books (or other genres), but not to the exclusion of the Bible itself. Most of us can do that because of Jerome. He spent almost thirty years creating a Latin translation of the Bible that was so precise, so accurate, it became the standard for all other translations for over 1,000 years. We know it today as the Latin Vulgate, or more literally, the Latin Bible in the "common" language.
Jerome studied in Rome, but rather than follow the decadent pleasures that were available in the capital city of the Roman Empire, he pursued the life of a devout Christian. Eventually he went to the Holy Land and studied Greek in Antioch. It was here that he had a famous dream. In his dream, he was brought before a court ruled by God. The books were opened, and Jerome heard the verdict on his life: Ciceronianus es, non Christianus (you are a follower of Cicero, not of Christ). Jerome had become a lover of classical literature, not a lover of God's word. After the dream, Jerome vowed to make the study of God's word his primary task in life.
In the year 382, Jerome went back to Rome to serve as secretary to Pope Damasus, but his great learning and sharp tongue got him into trouble with the pleasure-seeking Papacy and the Romans. He chided the church clerics for their lack of faith and charity, writing about them that "they have not faith nor mercy, but what they do have, silver and gold — well, those they refuse to give to others as well." He was eventually run out of Rome and back to the Holy Land, this time to Bethlehem, where he lived in a monastery. There he completed his great work, translating the Scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek into the common Latin of his day. In his desire for absolute accuracy, he even consulted Jewish rabbis and Greek scholars. For almost 1,000 years scholars translated the Bible into other languages using Jerome's Latin Vulgate as their primary source.
We live in strange days. Voices from politics, the media, sports, and likely, your classmates, work colleagues, and friends on social media are vying for both your attention and the endorsement of their views. Amid what can only be described as virtual chaos, the word of God stands tall. It is to this word that we must run, for in it we find stability, truth, and direction. Do not find yourself a follower of any other person or movement before you submit yourself fully to God and his revelation in Scripture. Other matters are pressing, many of them important, but none so important as to trump the life and direction we receive from the word of God.
Jerome loved God's word, and he wanted everyone to be able to read it. The Scriptures became accessible to the common people, but just as importantly, they transformed the life of Jerome, as they will transform our lives if we will make it our pleasure and discipline to read them, know them, and live by them.
Grace and Peace,